University regents want report on UAA athletics

bbragg@adn.comMay 31, 2013 

— UAA athletics will be the topic of a special meeting at next week's University of Alaska Board of Regents meeting in Fairbanks.

Regents will hear a report from UAA Chancellor Tom Case at the Wednesday evening meeting.

The athletic department is coming off a week of turmoil during which longtime athletic director Steve Cobb was fired by Case's boss, University of Alaska president Pat Gamble. The department is also the subject of an NCAA investigation, though the nature of that investigation has not been revealed.

But UA spokeswoman Kate Wattum said the matter was placed on the meeting's agenda a month ago.

"This is not an addition to the agenda. This has been on the agenda," she said. "It's a conversation that the board has been wanting to have, and it was scheduled for this meeting. So this is not a response to this week's media events.

"... There are ongoing issues that have been happening at UAA athletics, and the regents wanted a report from Chancellor Case."

A month ago, Case was publicly supporting Cobb, who was under fire for the makeup of a search committee formed to hire a new hockey coach after Dave Shyiak was fired after eight losing seasons. Case's support came after Cobb received votes of "no confidence" from the UAA Hockey Alumni Association and the Alaska State Hockey Association.

A week later, after four finalists for the hockey job were flown to Anchorage for interviews, Case halted the coaching search in order to expand the search committee as well as the criteria for coach candidates.

Since then, a 2011 incident in which Shyiak struck a player with a hockey stick during practice became public. The university launched an investigation into the assault but otherwise remained silent for about a week until Cobb told the Daily News that he conducted an investigation at the time and found no reason to punish or reprimand Shyiak.

Wattum said she did not know if any of those events are the reason the regents want to talk to Case.

The meeting will be livestreamed and open to the public, she said, although regents could decide to discuss things behind closed doors.

"The discussion is going to start out as an open discussion," Wattum said. "If it looks like it's being moved to personnel issues or matters that could be damaging to the university or others, they will move those issues into executive session."

The meeting runs from 5-8 p.m. in the Butrovich building on the UAF campus. It will also include a discussion about the university budget.

The regents will meet on other matters Thursday and Friday, with public testimony -- which can include comments about UAA athletics -- taken both days. Public testimony will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. Friday and will be limited to three minutes per person. To participate, call 907-450-8102 or email sybor@alaska.edu.

The link for livestream coverage won't be active until sometime next week, but it can be found at www.alaska.edu/oit/services/video-conferencing/streaming-conferences/

The Board of Regents is an 11-member group that meets several times a year at various campuses within the University of Alaska system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reach Beth Bragg at bbragg@adn.com or 257-4335.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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